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January 21, 2009 > Theater Review: Strong Gin from Broadway West

Theater Review: Strong Gin from Broadway West

By Julie Grabowski

A simple game can be a dangerous thing as Broadway West demonstrates with D.L. Colburn's "The Gin Game." An instant hit in its 1976 debut, the tragicomedy rose to the heights of Broadway and stages around the world, collecting Tony and Drama Desk Awards as well as the 1978 Pulitzer Prize for its story of two people dealing with old age, loneliness, and the struggle for meaning.

Weller Martin and Fonsia Dorsey are residents of a run-down nursing home in the Midwest facing visitor's day alone. They retreat to the cluttered porch where a friendship sprouts over their mutual dislike of the home and enjoyment of gin rummy. Health issues, family histories, jobs, finances, thoughts on entertainment and lifestyle are shared over the card table as Fonsia proves surprisingly good at the game - a little too good for Weller's taste. He becomes more frustrated and demanding as her effortless winning streak continues, while she grows more confident and defiant. Their games escalate into venomous battles where personal hurts and past failures are used as ammunition, leading to painful truths and an irreparable breach.

"The Gin Game" is an unpredictable experience where you are never sure if comedy, injury, romance, or tragedy will triumph. Robert Moss is thoroughly engaging and humorous as the acidic, foul-mouthed Weller, while Christine Macomber's prudent, upright Fonsia is a fine counterpart. The two carry the story with natural chemistry and believability, further supported by the impressive set. Almost a character in itself, the weathered brick and blue walls of the nursing home, dead climbing vines, and castoff household articles further suggest the struggle of life and the difficulty of keeping up appearances.

All elements of the production combine to provide an enjoyable and moving evening that might have you thinking a little more about your next friendly game.

Tickets are $22 general admission; $17 for students, seniors, and TBA members; and $15 for everyone on Thursdays. Opening night and Sunday performances are full price. A continental brunch is offered at 12:15 p.m. on January 25 and February 1, while English tea, sandwiches, and scones will be provided at intermission on February 8. All refreshments are included in the ticket price. For tickets or more information call (510) 683-9218 or visit

The Gin Game
January 16 - February 14
Thursday - Saturday at 8 p.m., Sundays at 1 p.m.
Broadway West Theatre Company
4000-B Bay Street, Fremont
(510) 683-9218

Tickets: $15-$22

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